The Oregon Trail in a nutshell
We discovered time travel! Well, sort of. For eight days, we road tripped our way through the historic Oregon Trail with our British friends. From the plains of Missouri to the magnificent coastline of Oregon, we followed in pioneers’ footsteps and discovered incredible facts about the USA’s origins.Our journey started at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri. We felt transported back to the 1940s as we toured the museum and learned all about the USA’s 33rd president. We went further back in time to the 1880s at the Chicago and Alton Railroad Station. Back then a ride to Chicago was only $2!
From Missouri, we headed west to Topeka, Kansas to visit the Ward-Meade Historic Site, a restored pioneer village. We enjoyed a cup of tea while our guide (dressed in period clothing, of course) gave us a fascinating history lesson about the early 1850s pioneers.
Just north of Kansas, we arrived at the Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska. Inside the impressive caves, we found prehistoric petroglyphs and carvings that have been preserved for centuries. Next, we explored Scotts Bluff National Monument, an important symbol for pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail. We took a moment to enjoy the impressive scenic views all around us before heading to our next destination: Wyoming.
Upon arrival in Wyoming, we visited Fort Laramie, a rural town that reminded us of the Wild West. The town was an important re-stocking stop for pioneers looking to tackle the mountain passes that surround the area. Our last stop in Wyoming was at the Oregon Trail Ruts, a protected site where we actually saw the real ruts left by pioneer wagon wheels! During its busiest days between 1841 and 1869, wagon wheels, animals and people wore down the trail up to 2 meters deep. We felt like we’d gone back in time!
Our British friends were in for a treat when we reached Soda Springs Geyser in Idaho. It was their first time seeing a live geyser, and this one did not disappoint! Like our guide said, the spring “roars like a mad dragon” as it shoots 20 meters into the air. We followed up the roaring geyser with a visit to the Lava Hot Springs Foundation Hot Pools. What a treat! Sitting in the spring’s relaxing pools was a welcome break during our trip.
The next day we felt rejuvenated and ready for more adventure, so after visiting a historic Native American settlement and the Shoshone Falls (we couldn’t believe they were taller than the Niagara Falls!), we headed to the Buzz Langdon Visitor Center to watch the breathtaking views of Snake Canyon River Rim. The landscape was amazing, but we were even more impressed with the daring BASE jumpers leaping off the bridge!
The last state on our road trip was, obviously, Oregon. Once we crossed the state line, we headed straight to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. We loved interacting with the digital displays showcasing the many places we had just visited. From there we headed into Portland, where we felt like locals biking around the city and exploring its famous food truck scene. The juxtaposition between historic landmarks and modern-day activities really made it the perfect way to end our adventure across the Oregon Trail.
Thanks for following us on this blast from the past! Next up, we’re exploring the beautiful landscapes of the New England Coast.